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Chats to encourage discourse? Photo: Visual Photos
Chats to encourage discourse? Photo: Visual Photos
Web savvy. Netanyahu Photo: Amit Shabi Yedioth Ahronoth
Web savvy. Netanyahu Photo: Amit Shabi Yedioth Ahronoth

Netanyahu woos Arab world on Facebook

PM to chat with Arab web surfers on social networks, answer questions about Israel's policy

Itamar Eichner
Published: 12.08.11, 10:19 / Israel News

"Hi, my name is Faisal from Saudi Arabia, and I would like to ask Mr. Netanyahu what's going on with the military strike on Iran?" If this sentence sounds imaginary to you, it might not be in the near future.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed to open communication channels between the Prime Minister's Office and the Arab world, as part of efforts to promote discourse between the sides.


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To that end, Netanyahu plans to hold chats on Twitter and Facebook, where he will answer questions of web surfers from the Arab world, his replies simultaneously translated into Arabic.


The Prime Minister's Spokesperson to the Arab media Ofir Gendelman held a similar chat recently, answering questions about the Arab Spring, the future relations with Egypt and, of course, the prospects of a military strike in Iran.


However, along with many curious participants, some took advantage of the forum in order to lash out at Israel.


"I wrote them thank you very much for teaching me new words in spoken Arabic," said Gendelman, adding that "I told them they paid a great service to the State of Israel."


Gendelman's response most have caught the attention of Arab media, as he was soon after featured in a profile report on Asharq Al-Awsat – one of the leading newspapers in the Arab World.


Online chats with the Arab world is not a new phenomenon in Israel. Adel Hino and Lior Ben Dor, who head the Foreign Ministry spokesperson's unit to the Arab world, also chat with Arab web users on a regular basis.


"In effect, we operate a virtual embassy in 22 Arab countries," said Ben Dor, adding that their virtual initiative "bypasses censorship and crosses borders."






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